Alexander Tirpack, a former intern for Rolling Stone magazine, won a $43 million verdict from a New York jury for injuries that will leave him wheelchair-bound for life.

According to witnesses, Tirpack was at a party on North 10th Street in Williamsburg on September 25, 2010, when he needed to urinate. He asked the host to use the bathroom, but was told he could not, because the host’s wife was asleep in the apartment. Instead, Tirpack was given an empty Gatorade bottle and directed to a remote section of the building’s roof. At the edge of the roof, he attempted to climb onto a parapet just a little over three feet from the ground. Because it was dark, he couldn’t see that there was a 2 1/2 foot gap between the building he was on and the one next to it. He fell 70 feet, severing his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.

Tirpack’s attorney argued that the building developers had violated city ordinances which require a 10 foot high wire fence around any roof used for recreation. They argued that the building owners had not erected the mandatory fence because they wanted to sell sections of another part of the roof as private “cabanas,” and the fence would have ruined the view.

Defense attorneys contended that the intent of the ordinance was to protect individuals engaged in active recreation, such as basketball or other sports, as opposed to passive recreation. They also argued that Tirback, who had been drinking all night, was entirely at fault. Sources say it will likely be a long time before Tirpack sees any money, as the verdict will certainly be appealed.

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